Urban Dalat “open” vision needed

Mr. Nguyen Huu Tam, Director of the Provincial Construction Department, said: The idea of planning and designing Dalat center must meet the criteria of modern urban architecture, convenience in transportation, associated with the characteristics of the environmental urban landscape of this land…


Da Lat hasn’t got many urban plannings that were established and approved. As at 1975, this city got only 2 plans of 1923 and 1943 designed by the French architects and were approved, namely, “Urban Planning (Da Lat)” by Architect Hbrard and “Amended Planning(Da Lat)” by Architect Lagisquet. Architect Tran Duc Loc, expert of Lam Dong Construction Department, said: The idea of forming a series of artificial lakes on Cam Ly stream with the main lake called Grand Lake (Xuan Huong lake today) in combination with Doi Cu Hill Da Lat golf course today has created a green center and delineated functional areas administrative area residential area, hospitals comes from the first plans of Dalat by Hbrard (1923). After that, in the Amended Planning, Architect Lagisquet(1943) focused on modeling Da Lat a garden city, creating a vision of the landscape in Langbian mountain to the north, open space with functional areas, sparse construction density and low-rise buildings so, with those two plans, the natural elements have been absolutely respected, and we can understand, this is the urban planning of Da Lat in the “hand spreading” form.

The planning of urban Dalat

The planning of urban Dalat

From 1975 until now, the most notable urban planning is the 1994 projectfollowing the idea of tree bough branch for the period of 1994-2010 approved by the Government and then implemented). And recently, Dalat authorities held a contest to mobilize intellectuals in proposing new ideas of urban structure but the key guidance for urban city of Dalat is again structured tree-bough branches by the competent agency and leaders in Dalat and Lam Dong. According to this “tree-bough branch” structure, by 2020, of the total land area of about 97,000ha, construction land in Da Lat is almost 18,000ha a rather reasonable ratio for a specific tourist city like Da Lat. Accordingly, the population of Da Lat from over 200,000 at present will increase to over 430,000 by 2020. As for urban space, Da Lat chooses 4 main directions of development under the tree-bough branch model, namel The North Western direction, central development of Dan Kia suoi Vang Tourist Resort and Cam Ly, Mang Ling areas. The North and Northeast direction, including residential areas will be developed in the “urban arden-landscape” form. The Eastern direction will develop industrial clusters, mainly agriculture processing products such as vegetables, flowers located quite far from the city center. The Southeast direction takes Tuyen Lam Lake as a major development with priority given to development of industrial clusters, agro-processing and cultivation along Highway 20 (near Tuyen Lam Lake). lt should also be added, in the Orientation of masterplan for urban development of the country by 2020, Da Lat city of Lam Dong province is defined as the central city of the urban system in the Central Highlands and the South East region during the period of industrialization and modernization.


In theory, experts think that, the “tree-bough branch” model is rather close to the “hand spreading” structure. However, there exists an anxiety: the “hand-spreading” structure has a stop and is fixed, while the development of the”tree- bough branch” model reflects”greed” with drawbacks existing parallel to strengths which, every time drawbacks rise, they will entail a range of implicated issues. Two scientists from the University of Architecture, Architect Pham Tu and Pham Thi Ai Thuy recently proposed a rather strange idea for the issue of the planning of urban Da Lat, and this idea seems to be able to reconcile the two above mentioned models of urban development for Da Lat. On the basis of the theoretical research”Asian Urban Planning” of Prof Dr. William S.W. Lim Chairman of the Archtect association Asia, two architects Pham Tu and Pham Thi Ai Thuy raised the question: “in the current context, the modernistic urban planning theory is both hard and outdated, so which solution can be applied to the planning task of development Dalat to meet current requirements and match future development?”. These architects also stated clearly: “When analyzing Asian urban cities, the author (Prof. Dr. William SW Lim) has come to two important comments: The planning boom in the fast-growing economy of Asian major cities has spurred many urban construction activities and resulted in unexpectedly chaotic development Frantic urbanization in Asian urban cities although interesting, for it brings about endless opportunities, may also lead to disastrous outcomes, especially for the working class and the poor”. And, based on the Asian moral standards” theory, these authors have chosen 5 factors for their research and application to Da Lat, namely, Preservation and Reminiscence protection of public and urban and spatial justice and urban transportation. Of which, wih the “Preservation and Reminiscence” factor, Architects Pham Tu and Pham Thi Ai Thuy contended that, for Cam Ly waterfall, Valley of Love, Xuan Huong Lake and the system of valuable architectural works, in reality, the preservation and safeguarding seem incomplete”. On this basis, these authors proposed Da Lat should be harmoniously developed, Da Lat architecture must be green architecture as a green urban city High-rise structure is needed to highlight the space of Dalat landscape (both meeting urban development of many new functions, and an accent on the visual landscape of urban space and also saving and reserve for the development in future generations) and finally, the master plan and the will of leaders with hints to be back to the original starting pointof Architect Hbrard’s good idea in 1923 to build Da Lat into a “Landscape city”.

Dalat Villas at Tran Hung Dao st

Dalat Villas at Tran Hung Dao st

For those who love Da Lat, they agree that: So far, Da Lat has undergone several plans, but a Da Lat in the forest and forest in the city planning with the French architectural style somewhat mixed with Indochinese architecture is a very particular characteristic of Da Lat, the soul of the land which should be stored forever, not only in a day or two!

By Khac Dung

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